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UFC 137 fight card: Matt Mitrione vs. Cheick Kongo, climbing up the heavyweight ladder

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Surely you know Matt Mitrione by now. He's the big man with the raspy voice and heavy hands. A former football player, he's a natural athlete, one who seemingly found his calling a little too late in life.

His calling is the fight game. 

By the time he finally made it to the party, though, he was already 31-years-old, an age that, in pro football, signifies pending decline. This is not the case in MMA, though. No, Mitrione has already managed to reel off five consecutive victories, each more impressive than the one before it.

"Meathead," as he's called, has said he's not worried about ever winning a title. Simply put, he's already a success story, having gone from one sport to the next without failing miserably.

But if he continues to rip off win after win after win, including one more tonight (Oct. 29, 2011) at UFC 137 in Las Vegas against Cheick Kongo, he'll end up in a title fight before you know it.

Could you imagine?

This is all not to say that Cheick Kongo is some sort of pushover. To the contrary, the Frenchman represents a rather stiff test for Mitrione.

Some would label him a "gatekeeper," as in, he's a necessary stop for any heavyweight hoping to break into the title picture. And while that distinction seems to sell him short, it can actually be quite the compliment.

Unfortunately, he got there thanks to a couple high profile failures at the hands of such fighters as Heath Herring, Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir.

If you can't beat the best, then you're doomed to the mid-card.

Still, he's a massive brick wall of leather that has unbelievable power in both hands who can put anyone to sleep if he lands a clean shot even once. Just ask Pat Barry.

That's why he's the perfect fit for Mitrione during this progression of his career. Will he make it the next level? Tonight we find out.

Stay tuned.

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